According to Project Director Lashonda McKinney-Wilson, the organization receives funds from the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors and Mississippi Department of Transportation, but those funds are limited.
"Our organization offers affordable service and our main concern is that we need the support from the community to help us with what we are doing. We need local match,” said McKinney-Wilson.
“We have to have money to help our citizens. Our program offers discounts to senior citizens. Some of our money is coming from MDOT but the other part is coming from whom? We don’t have the support that we need.
“We often get calls asking us whether or not the service is free and in reality it is practically free. You are getting a lot of service for a little of nothing.
“For example from Cleveland to Tunica, we only charge them $10, one way, so that's $20 round trip you can't beat that. It beats you paying your neighbor $20 to go one way," added McKinney-Wilson.
Bolivar County Council On Aging, Inc. is a Non-profit Organization that provides rural transportation for the elderly, disabled and general public to clients in Bolivar, Sunflower, Yazoo and Washington counties.
The main office is located in Cleveland and a satellite office in Yazoo City, which provides rural general public transportation to employment as well.
"We do door to door services, most big transportation companies have designated bus stops but because we are so rural there are no bus stops. We try to work with other municipalities, and when they can, they make contributions to the agency,” said McKinney-Wilson.
“All of this is used to help offset costs and to help with match, and when I say match, I mean to help purchase vehicles that people see going up and down the road."
The program services nine counties and they are in conjunction with the Delta Rides Regional group, which covers a 250-mile radius.
According to McKinney-Wilson, the program has the first regional call center in Mississippi, but it is still in its developmental stages.
"We provide transportation services for Bolivar, Sunflower, Coahoma, Yazoo, Warren, Madison, Sharkey, Issaquena and a portion of Hinds," said McKinney-Wilson.
The program has been in existence for 41 years and it now has over 60 buses to transport and pick up individuals in various designated locations.
Dr. J.Y. Trice is the founder and CEO of the Bolivar County Council on Aging and according to him; the organization began in his car in 1972.
"One day my wife and I were traveling to Greenville and we passed a man on the side of the road, with a lady sitting on the back seat. At this time, everyone had to buy food stamps in Rosedale in order to purchase grocery. The man was in pursuit to Rosedale to take the lady to buy food stamps but he was having car trouble," said Trice.
"My wife and I stopped to offer them help, but the gentleman told me to just take care of the lady that was on his backseat and that's what we did.
"I allowed the lady to get into my car and I proceeded to take her to get the food stamps. From that point on, I saw the need for people needing transportation, and I got involved with others and the agency grew from there," he added.
The program was chartered by the state in 1975 and after getting involved with various governmental agencies, it ceased its primary focus on the elderly and disabled, it became open to the public.
"We try our best to offer an affordable service to the community, but we need help,” said McKinney-Wilson.
“We have made contact with Delta State to try to get a partnership going. We have even offered to set up a shuttle route around the campus, because a lot of students attend the university but they do not have transportation.
“We have a regional mobility manager and their responsibility is to go out into the community and bring stakeholders to the table.
“We have a lot of support from Greenville. Our motto is we doze but we do not close. Even when our doors are closed and locked on the weekends, an individual can always reach one of our employees by calling our main office," said Wilson.
For more information or for scheduling, please contact Wilson at 662-846-6161